Defending free speech with a gun

Andrew Stephen's America column should be reprinted and given free to every Brit thinking of coming to live in the US. As usual, his piece about movers, how so much of America is all surface and no infrastructure ("Give me the tea-drinking UK worker", 22 May), was exactly on the money. In the same issue, Alexander Chancellor ("Just the place for Rushdie and Amis") seems more familiar with the privileged enclaves most lit Brits settle for. But if, as he says, Salman Rushdie's unjust situation is affecting the refined sensibilities of New York liberals and spoiling their relaxation, old Sal's welcome down here in Texas any time he feels like coming.

We can take a fatwah or two in our stride. Sal will be able to visit any restaurant he likes without the protection of even a jacket. First sign of trouble, fifty 45s will flash in the fists of his fellow diners. His good neighbours are likely to own arsenals larger than those of most nations and will be more than ready to put them at his disposal. In the Lone Star State, Sal, we don't ask a gent how he earns his living. We take you on your own terms. We let you write what you like, be who you like and go where you like. Always on the understanding that, when it comes down to free speech, a writer's best friend is his firepower.

Michael Moorcock
Lost Pines, Texas

This article first appeared in the 05 June 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Driving back to happiness